Don't Make These 10 Common Mistakes on Your Hotel Website

By Tema Frank CEO, Frank Reactions | December 07, 2014

Hotels owners worldwide are frustrated by the huge bite online booking sites like Trip Advisor and Booking.com are taking out of their profits. Only 65% of bookings are now made directly on a hotel or hotel chain's website and for many small hotels the number is probably even worse, so you can't afford to snub these sites. At the same time, you want to encourage as many people as possible to book directly with you, so you don't have to pay those nasty commissions. One way to do that is to make sure you've got a great website.1) Sadly, too many hotels are still making basic mistakes on their websites that are undermining their chances of getting customers to book with them directly. Here are some of the main ones:

1. Not Mobile-Friendly

Even sites that have already got all the basics of a good website covered are often messing up on mobile. If your website isn't set up to work well on cell phones and tablets, you are going to miss a growing chunk of business. Mobile devices are already being used for 21% of online hotel bookings, and then number is increasing quickly.2)

When it comes to something as complex as booking a hotel, a mobile site that is just a shrunken version of your regular site won't work. It has to be easy for people not only to find the information they want on a small screen, but also to click links and enter information easily. You don't want them getting frustrated by the "fat fingers" problem – pressing the wrong links by mistake because everything is bunched too close together.

Make sure your site has been tested on all the major types of devices and display sizes. Often things that work fine on your regular site, like a chat box, or a photo, may totally mess up the layout on a cell phone. It may end up covering the crucial parts of your site that they need to see and use to book. There are free sites like Screenfly ([http://quirktools.com/screenfly/][1]8(1)) that can help you test. It is good to try it on more than one test site, though, because results may vary.

With new screen sizes coming out all the time, you need to check again every few months. One of the biggest challenges facing designers now is the introduction of "smart watches". Imagine having to make your website work on a watch-sized screen.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.